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Referee Styles dropped after errors at Anfield

Referee Styles dropped after errors at Anfield

By Giles Mole and agencies
Last Updated: 2:38pm BST 21/08/2007

Referee Rob Styles has been dropped for next week's Premier League matches and forced to apologise following his performance during the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield yesterday.

Styles awarded Chelsea the contentious penalty that enabled the visitors to equalise Fernando Torres' opener. Steve Finnan was penalised for a foul on Florent Malouda, although television replays showed there was no contact.

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In his apology to Liverpool, Styles said: "All referees enter into matches hoping not to make any mistakes but understanding that they may happen. What none of us want is for any mistake to potentially affect the result of the match.

"Yesterday, in mistakenly awarding a penalty, I accept that I may have affected the result of the match and for that I apologise."

Styles had also caused confusion by appearing to show a second yellow card to Michael Essien, although he later clarified it was John Terry being booked.

In confirming Styles would sit out the next round of matches, Keith Hackett, the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited, said: "Accountability exists and we expect referees to get big decisions correct.

"On this occasion it was wrong and therefore Rob will not be officiating next weekend.

"I spoke to Rob this morning and obviously he is extremely disappointed with the decision and admitted he got it wrong. I have left a message with Rafael Benitez to apologise.

"Having looked at a video and seen a better angle and a better view, clearly he (Styles) now recognises that he got it wrong and he's deeply apologetic for that."

Asked about the confusion when Essien appeared to be booked for a second time, Hackett said: "I'm informed by both the fourth official and Rob he retained the card shown to John Terry then held the card to indicate a direct free-kick, and failed to put the card away. So it was a basic, if you like, admin error as against an error in application of law.

"We'll look at the video to ensure we don't get a repeat of that."

Hackett also said assistant referee Ian Gosling will be given next weekend off, after he denied Fulham a late goal at home to Middlesbrough when David Healy clearly forced the ball over the line.

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"Clearly the assistant referee has made an error, so he won't be operating next week for us either."

Former referee Graham Poll had earlier suggested Styles should take some time off and regroup.

Poll, who retired at the end of last season, said: "If that was me, I'd certainly be happy to have a weekend off, lick my wounds, regain my strength and confidence and come back."

However, fellow ex-referee Jeff Winter feels the Premier League cannot afford to let Styles sit out this weekend's fixtures.

"The problem is at Premier League level, we saw referees retire at the end of last season," he said. "They haven't exactly got the numbers."


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